Luke Lestini

Luke Lestini

CANONSBURG – After Tuesday’s round of the AJGA Junior boys golf tournament at Southpointe Golf Club, Luke Lestini was in a six-way tie for the lead, shooting a 2-over 74.

The second round Wednesday didn’t go as smoothly for the 2019 Observer-Reporter Boys Golf MVP. Lestini shot 4-over 76 and hurt himself with three consecutive bogeys to end the round. Nonetheless, Lestini is still in contention as the tournament enters its final day. Lestini, who plays for the South Fayette High School team, is four strokes back of leader Jean-Philippe Parr of Quebec.

While Lestini’s score was two strokes higher Wednesday than the day before – and he’s now four strokes further from the lead than he was after Tuesday – he wasn’t discouraged.

“I thought I was playing good, for the most part,” Lestini said.

Lestini acknowledged, however, that his round could have been better, especially at the end.

“On my last three holes, I just kind of fell asleep a little bit,” he said. “That’s a not-so-good thing to happen, but what are you going to do?”

Lestini didn’t get off to a hot start, bogeying the first hole. He regrouped to par the next two holes, before taking a 5 on a par-4 to put himself at 2-over.

Lestini then brought himself back to even with consecutive birdies on Nos. 5 and 6, but fell back over par with a bogey on on No. 7. Lestini parred the last two holes to finish with a 37 on the front nine.

Lestini’s 39 on the back nine was identical to the opening round. He held his own on the first six holes, with a birdie, a bogey and four pars. Waling to the 16th tee, Lestini was on pace to best his score from Tuesday.

A possible cause for Lestini lagging on his final three holes was spending several hours in the July heat. Temperatures were plenty hot for somebody to walk nine holes, let alone play 18.

The heat had an affect on Lestini, and he found it difficult to concentrate on golf, while at the same time sweating through his polo shirt.

“It’s hard to maintain your focus, I’d say,” he said. “Just to not get sidetracked from what you’re supposed to do.”

Another factor, Lestini said, could have been the wind on the back nine compared to the front end.

“On the front nine, there was absolutely zero wind, which was nice,” Lestini said. “Then the wind started to blow on the back nine, which made things a little bit harder.”

Lestini enters the tournament’s final round tied with four players, including Shady Side Academy’s Adam Lauer, for fifth place. Looking back on his round, Lestini believes that his standing is an accurate portrayal of his performance. {

“I think the round was close to (Tuesday’s round),” he said. “I didn’t play that bad. I just want to not lose shots where I know I shouldn’t. I think that’s the main thing.”

Behind Canada’s Philippe Parr, two Pennsylvania natives, Erie’s Patrick Kelly and Canonsburg’s Rocco Salvitti, are tied for second place. Lestini is part of a five-way tie for fifth place and Todd Moyer of North Carolina rounds out the top 10 at 7-over.

In the girl’s tournament, Katie Li of Basking Ridge, N.J., has a commanding lead at 1-under, four shots ahead of second-place Rebecca DiNunzio of Norfolk, Va. South Fayette’s Caroline McConnell (+18) is tied for 18th place with two players, including Mt. Lebanon’s Lindsey Powanda.

For Thursday’s final round, Lestini said his success will depend on how he performs out of the gate.

“Make a fast start,” he said. “That’s about it. Just start fast.”

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.